Tanzan-jinja Shrine (談山神社)

Tanzan-jinja Shrine is a shrine located in Mt. Tonomine, Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture. Its enshrined deity is FUJIWARA no Kamatari (Danzan Daimyojin, Danzan Gongen). It is a place well known for beautiful cherry blossoms and maple tree leaves. It was once a temple named Tonomine temple before the separation of Buddhism and Shintoism.


Its temple history written in Kamakura period describes the origin of the shine, and according to it, after the death of the founder of the Fujiwara clan, FUJIWARA no Kamatari, a monk and his elder son Joe came back to Japan from China (Tang Dynasty) and moved his father's tomb from Ai, Settsu Province (see Abuyama Tumulus) to Yamato Province, where he erected Jusanjunoto (Thirteen-storied pagoda) in 678. In 680, Kodo Hall (existent shrine architecture) was build and named Myoraku-ji Temple. In 701, Shido (a hall dedicated to the souls of ancestors) (existent shrine architecture) was built beside the Jusanjunoto to enshrine a wooden image of Kamatari and was called Shoryoin. It is believed that the name Tanzan (mountain of negotiation) came from an episode that FUJIWARA no Kamatari and Emperor Tenchi held a meeting in May 645 in Mt. Tonomine to discuss the Taika Reforms and, and later the mountain came to be called "kataraiyama" (mountain of chat) or "dansho no mori" (woods of consultation).

In the Heian period, the temple developed along with the prosperity of the Fujiwara clan, as is shown in such episodes as the ascetic stay of FUJIWARA no Takamitsu at the temple after he had entered into priesthood and the temple's invitation to a holy priest Zoga shonin. In the Kamakukra period, Koun Ejo (Daiosho [Great Osho]), who later became the second chief priest of Eihei-ji Temple of the Soto Zen sect, learned the Buddhism here.

Since the temple invited Zoga, who was a priest of Tendai sect, in the Heian period, it was never free from disputes with Kofuku-ji Temple, which were common in connection with the Fujiwara clan of Yamato-no-kuni but different in the sect. From the Kamakura period through the Muromachi period, the two temples frequently had disputes over the territory.

In 1585, after Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI issued a strict order to relocate the temple to an area under control of Koriyama-jo Castle, its buildings were destroyed and transferred. In 1590, it was allowed to go back to the mountain. It was reconstructed by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. In the early-modern times, it had shuinryo with a production of more than 3,000 koku crop yield.

In 1869, soto (Buddhist priests) were ordered to return to secular life. It changed its name to Tanzan-jinja Shrine.

There is no end to the number of people who climb the mountain and visit Tanzan-jinja Shrine whose Buddhist Garan is still found in its precinct. Although Haibutsu-kishaku (a movement to abolish Buddhism) in the Meiji period forced it to eliminate the Buddhist institution and remain only as a shrine, it has continued using its Buddhist temple architecture and conserved a unique atmosphere.

A mausoleum believed to be the tomb of FUJIWARA no Kamatari is behind a mountain pass that goes from Tanzan-jinja Shrine to Goharetsu-zan Mountain. There are a stone pagoda believed to be the tomb for the second son of FUJIWARA no Kamatari, Tankaiko (a posthumous title of FUJIWARA no Fuhito) within a short walk from Tanzan-jinja Shrine.

For reference, images of its haiden (a hall of worship) and Jusanjunoto were adopted on Bank of Japan notes a few times before the war (in prewar times).

National Treasure

Fukubachi (inverted bowl-shaped base of a pagoda finial) of Obara-dera Temple Sanjunoto (three-storied pagoda): an artifact of Obara-dera Temple, whose ruin is found in the mountains in Obara, Sakurai City (northeast of Tanzan-jinja Shrine)
"Fukubachi" refers to a part of "Sorin (metal pinnacle)" on the top of three- or five-storied pagodas. It is made of copper and bears an inscription including the year of 715. It describes the origin of Obara-dera Temple that NAKATOMI no Ason Oshima founded it for Prince Kusakabe with an imperial order.
It is designated as a national treasure not in the category of 'craft' but in the category of 'archaeological materials.'
It is deposited in Nara National Museum.

[Original Japanese]